These are just some of the conditions those who fall for a Jehovah's Witness must adhere to. Members of the sect in Germany prefer to pair off their children within the faith community, and regional congresses make for prime matchmaking territory.
Her hair is delicately pinned up, arranged in bud-like clusters. Like thousands of others, she has come to Dortmund with her family -- all of them strict believers, all of them dressed up for the special day -- for the annual North Rhine-Westfalia convention of Jehovah's Witnesses. Having doubts about his faith, the oldest son stayed home.
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It's a blow to the parents but the enthusiasm of their younger children compensates for the one son's lack of faith. They arrive in caravans, bringing Tupperware, coolers, blankets and, most importantly, their Bibles. Here they can pray among peers, feeling a sense of community instead of isolation.
And since the family must expand, "many Witnesses naturally meet their future spouses here," says Uwe Langhals, another spokesman, who has been a Jehovah's Witness since he was Once decried as a cult, the Jehovah's Witnesses have managed to successfully fight for the title of "statutory public body" in 12 of the 16 German states.
This gives them the same legal status as, for example, the Protestant church.
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Though they occupy enormous venues, the public hardly notices their presence. Dortmund is home to the largest district convention of Jehovah's Witnesses in the country.
The majority of those following the faith in Germany hail from the Ruhr region, which is densely populated and has relatively high unemployment. Some 40, Witnesses are expected to attend the event on each of the three days it will last. Now they are standing in the Westfalen Stadium, embracing fellow brothers and sisters.
Melanie is busy catching up with a friend. There are many young people, among them young straight-backed men in suits. The girls exchange secretive looks and giggle.
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At first glance, it could be a wedding party. The girls' skirts might be a little longer and the children might look a bit more nicely coiffed, but it would be difficult to assign this group of people to any particular faith community. It's only their purple plastic nametags that give them away: Written above the name is the phrase "Let God's Kingdom Come!
They have been married for 12 years. Both have been Jehovah's Witnesses since they were young.
They spend 40 hours per week doing missionary work, preferably side-by-side. They are nice, peaceful people.
They offer strangers licorice and apple slices, spread out wool blankets against the cold and help old people up the stairs. They listen quietly to the speaker on the lawn below. They sit close together, still and pious in the seats usually occupied by cheering, swearing fans of the Borussia Dortmund football club.
They hold their Bible in front of them like a silver tray: Their entire life is in this Bible. There are passages explaining why nicotine is forbidden but a glass of wine at the end of the day permitted, why blood transfusions are to be avoided and why non-believers must be converted.
Christianity, Jehovah's Witnesses, and the Deaf
Jehovah's Witnesses have very strict dating rules. The more zealous a Jehovah's Witness is, the more serious they are about the dating rules and proper etiquette. Casual dating for example, is not ok.
The purpose of dating is marriage. Jehovah's Witnesses who date are ready, willing, and able to marry someone.
They are seriously looking for a mate. Before they start dating, they must be in a position to get married, - spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially.
An exception might be if there is an adult chaperone or perhaps double dating, but even this would be looked down upon, because someone who is not financially stable and ready to get married should not be dating. If they're not ready for marriage, they shouldn't be dating.
Jehovah's Witnesses obey the Apostle Paul who said, 'Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?
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Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? A good friend would seek the help of loving shepherds in assisting a companion who has taken a false step. Even though Jehovah's Witnesses believe they are Christians, it is not alright for them to date or marry a Christian who belongs to another religion.
Jehovah's Witnesses do not believe in dating people outside of their religion because dating is supposed to lead to marriage, and Paul told early Christians not to be 'unevenly yoked', i.